That bouncy, Schlager bassline. Vocal harmonies and guitar bombast that cite Queen. The lilting coo of Broken Social Scene's Lisa Lobsinger. "Blood/Candy" is the Posies' first album in five years, and lead single "Licenses to Hide" heralded a dramatic new direction for the Northwest's power-pop heroes, who will play Seattle's Showbox at the Market on Saturday night.
Band co-founders Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow started recording the new songs in Spain last year, taking a more measured approach than on 2005’s “Every Kind of Light,” an album assembled on the fly in two weeks.
Stringfellow, who lives in Paris, emphasized the impact that living and recording abroad had on the new aesthetic.
“I’m very outside American culture,” he said. “I don’t see the same TV programs and hear the same music and read the same stuff and consume the same products that American people do on a daily basis. I do think that has an influence on how I express myself and the kinds of things I’m interested in pursuing and who I’m communicating to in many ways.
“Ninety percent of my shows in most years are played outside the U.S., and so that’s kind of my audience. Of course, I want this album to appeal to everyone, (but) the music scene of the UK and Scandinavia and things like that are very influential on me. It’s what I read and inhabit every day.”
Stringfellow also described the new songs as some of the most challenging material of the Posies’ 22-year run.
“These are pop songs that sound like we’re just strumming them around the campfire, but they’re played like prog-rock,” he said. “The parts are very challenging. And also ... we’ve tried so hard to replicate the parts on our album as we are now. I’m playing cello parts and things like that – not on a cello, but a cello keyboard sound, but trying to replicate some of the stuff a little more closely as opposed to just learning the chords and playing G, C and D.”
Auer said, “It is definitely percolating throughout with really kind of interesting little sonic bells and whistles if you’re listening for them. Some of our others (records) are much more straight ahead. You know – two guitarists, bass and drums. This just has layer upon layer. It’s a great headphone record in that respect.”
Co-headlining the tour is the Raconteur’s Brendan Benson, whom they met during a tribute to fallen Big Star frontman Alex Chilton in May. Auer and Stringfellow moonlighted with the oft-cited cult rock band, which also lost bass player Andy Hummel this year.
“It was a horrible year for Big Star,” Auer said. Of Chilton he added, “His life had just come into a really great place in the last few months. Oddly enough, his health had kind of rebounded. He’d had a couple of health issues that were kind of holding him down for a year or so, and he’d finally gotten over that and seemed in great shape. He’d just gotten married and all these things were happening for him and – wow – it just gets smashed away like that.”
Ernest Jasmin: 253-274-7389, firstname.lastname@example.org, blog.thenewstribune.com/tacomarockcity